Unwittingly removed asbestos floor tiles. What's the deal?

scared_weekend_tilerJune 17, 2010

Can someone please explain something to me? What is the deal with asbestos? Really.

I recently removed a small, 17-square ft. area of old 9X9 1960Âs VATÂs (vinyl-asbestos tiles) and didnÂt realize it until two weeks later. I used a little bit of adhesive remover and a heat gun and scraped them up. NO mask. And, in fact, while we were preparing the surface for the new floor, the scraps of VAT were sitting in a bucket and in my dry vac canister.

There was no dust.

Anyway, upon realizing what I had done, I called my doctor who said, "two weeks exposure is an extremely short exposure time, and thereÂs really no reason to worry." My daughters pediatrician said the same thing, more or less. Still, I didnÂt calm down or stop worrying because of the latency period thing. That is, I was worried that any one of the people living in my house could get sick 10 to 50 years down the road.

Now, IÂm reading about how VATÂs are no/low-risk because the asbestos is bound-up in the compound. ItÂs "part of the matrix." A piece in the SF Gate even states that vinyl floor tiles that contain asbestos pose no risk even if they are disturbed because of the way they were manufactured. Also, from what I understand, VATÂs contain a comparatively low % of asbestos, anywayÂespecially compared to other residential asbestos products.

Anyway, should I be worried? Or should I let it go? There seems to be a lot of doomsday-ish, very grim asbestos information on the web, but IÂm now wondering how many of these websites are sponsored by law firms for whom asbestos torts = $$$. I have to admit, IÂm hard pressed to find either a single instance (online) of a person ever developing a long-term illness from a popcorn ceiling, VATÂS, or any other residential asbestos products.

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nevadaskier

I was a controller and project manager for an asbestos abatement company and we made a lot of money removing tiles. But I will never understand why. Many many people happily live with encapsulated asbestos in their popcorn ceilings, mastic for tile and joint compound. It is all contained with a matrix that holds it together. Your chance of problems are much lower than the chance of getting hit by a bus in your living room. I am basing that on hundreds of asbestos air tests conducted during tile removal operations and after the close of operations. It just isnt an issue. Popcorn can be a little different if removed dry, but spray with water and again no problem. Then there are different types of asbestos, some of which are no problem but get grouped in with the dangerous types, not that they are safe safe, but much less likely to cause a problem. I forget which is which now. You are fine. Also dont do it again. Understand what can have asbestos in it, if you remove it or damage it then wear a HEPA mask, use water to keep dust down, use plastic to seal the room and then roll up the debris in the plastic and take it all to the dump.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 1:33AM
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glennsfc

Your 9"X9" tile could have been what is called asphalt tile; still has asbestos in the matrix, but no vinyl.

I agree that you really have to work hard to release enough fibers to create a hazardous condition.

I agree with the first poster about chances of being hit by a bus in your living room. However, that said, I have no way of knowing where you house is situated and how many buses come down your street at what speed!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 2:14PM
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brickeyee

The asbestos in asphalt tile is locked in very tightly.

Unless you took a power sander to the tiles nothing was released.

The tile does not even meet the EPA definition of 'friable' since you cannot crush it with your bare hands.

The plaintiffs bar has put an enormous amount of disinformation out there to manufacture wins in court.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 9:41PM
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boxers

my brother also works for an asbestos abatement company and these tiles can be placed in the trash. There are very alarmist kinds of postings but your in good shape. I worked for Armstrong and unfortunately people have sued simply cause they live in a bldg with asbestos tile floors etc etc. You'd have to sand the tiles to release the asbestos.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 2:55AM
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ktdibiase

I just tore up carpet and tile (3x3' area). My husband told be to STOP because of asbestos. My son was helping me. NO MASKS. I am now so torn up over possibly exposing my son and myself to asbestos.
I did not vacuum but did get any pieces of matter with a damp cloth and a mask.
Can I seal the floor, cover it with a sheet of linoleum and be safe?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 7:34PM
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lori_inthenw_gw

ktd-- there is not a risk from it if you are not exposed to it. You didn't sand it and spread it around in a dry form that you or your family would breathe. If you have it sealed and covered, you have no exposure.

The stress from worrying about it is probably more damaging to your health! (I couldn't tell from your post if you even knew that the tile contained asbestos, or just thought it might.)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:56AM
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